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Gov. McCrory targeting House Republicans to sustain veto

Gov. Pat McCrory is using Facebook to put pressure on 26 House Republicans to sustain his vetoes.

"Contact your representative, Susan Martin @ 919-715-3023 who represents Pitt county and tell her to sustain my vetoes of fiscally irresponsible & job-killing legislation: HB 392 & HB 786. Watch below. #NCPOL," reads a post from earlier this morning. The others follow the same format and link to a video of McCrory explaining his vetoes.

The direct targeting of lawmakers from his own party is a new tactic for McCrory and signals his frayed relationship with GOP legislators.

Party on

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking the legislature is still in session with all the lawmakers still wandering around Raleigh this month. For folks who like hanging out with politicians and have a few thousand dollars lying around, there are enough political fundraisers to fill a social calendar.

House Democrats invited folks to a social spot on Fayetteville Street last week. Top dollar "benefactor" tickets went for $5,000. The lowest cost ticket was $250.

Republican Reps. Mike Hager of Rutherfordton and Jacqueline Schaffer of Charlotte were at Tyler's Taproom on Tuesday. High dollar, $4,000; low dollar, $250. It was not a joint event, so donors were asked to aim their checks at individual campaign committees. Republican Reps. Tom Murry of Morrisville, Tim Moffitt of Asheville, and Susan Martin of Wilson were at Natty Greene's Wednesday night. ("Three M's are better than One!" said the invite.) Again, not a joint event. $250 to $4,000.

The House Republican Freshman Caucus is having a fundraiser Aug. 27 at the Carolina Country Club ($250 to $2,000, contribute to individual committees) featuring Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and House GOP caucus leader who is on the list of potential House Speakers. That will roll immediately into a House GOP Caucus fundraiser at the country club ($150 to $10.000) The $10,000 platinum hosts will get a dozen tickets to the VIP and general receptions.

Stripped down fracking bill emerges in House

A state House committee rejected an effort to lift the state’s fracking moratorium in a backlash against an aggressive push in the state Senate to promote shale gas exploration in North Carolina.

The legislation sailed through the Senate three months ago but underwent about 30 revisions in private negotiations in the House between lawmakers during the interim. The bill that emerged Wednesday was stripped down to such an extent that its sponsor, Republican Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton of Johnston County of Wilson, called it “a step backwards, or two steps backwards” and suggested it could delay energy exploration by several years.

House GOP caucus revolt blocks tax overhaul efforts

UPDATED: A split in the House Republican Caucus exploded into the open Wednesday morning, throwing a major tax bill into further jeopardy.

House Republican leaders, led by Speaker Thom Tillis, sought to strip a provision added to the bill a day earlier that added $500 million in cost. But a cadre of Republicans and Democrats joined forces in the Appropriations Committee to block a proposed substitute bill from even being considered.

The move left the House tax overhaul -- the top GOP agenda item this session -- in limbo and the lawmakers bewildered. Committee Chairman Nelson Dollar left the meeting dumbfounded and unable to find the words to explain what happened. Other clumps of Republicans huddled in the corners of the committee room, discussing one of the largest fissures in the Republican Caucus this session.

Morning Memo: Common Core fight hits North Carolina, tax bill divides GOP

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House tax plan returns for an unscheduled stop in another committee Wednesday morning. Look for lawmakers to possibly strip a provision added the day before by Finance Committee Chairwoman Julia Howard to remove the cap on home-related tax deductions. Continuing the fast timeline, bill sponsor David Lewis said the measure could hit the floor this week. The bill to fast-track fracking will get a vote in a House committee at 10 a.m. The full House will take a final vote to repeal the Racial Justice Act and consider a bill to redraw the Wake County school district boundaries. The Senate will work through a lengthy calendar that includes two beer bills and a measure requiring biodegradable plastic bottles to carry certain wording on their labels.

LT. GOV LAUNCHES COMMON CORE FIGHT: On Tuesday, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest posted a nearly four-minute video on YouTube, titled “My Concerns with Common Core.” In it, he said he has serious qualms about the state’s “rush to implement” the K-12 standard. Common Core was rolled out in North Carolina’s classrooms last fall. Forest vowed a critical review starting Wednesday during orientation for new members of the State Board of Education, suggesting “perhaps a fresh set of eyes will give us reason to pause, and make sure our state looks, before we leap into the Common Core.” 

***Additional details on Common Core, Thom Tillis' U.S. Senate bid and much more below in the Dome Morning Memo.***

Morning Memo: A new Dix deal, fallout from Brawley letter

A NEW DIX DEAL: Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane will hold a joint news conference this morning to discuss the Dorothea Dix lease. A state House committee approved a new version of a bill Wednesday that would revoke Raleigh’s disputed lease on the Dorothea Dix property near downtown. The compromise bill comes with a sweetener that has the support of city leaders and the governor’s office.

But the question is whether the Senate will go along. Sen. Ralph Hise, a Spruce Pine Republican, said the Senate remains committed to its version of the bill. "As we've clearly seen, the lease was entered into by the state illegally, it is substantially different than what even the Council of State had approved, and it's in the bad interest of the state," he said. "If they need to start, we'll start from scratch. But you can't begin on a foundation that's that weak."

GOP LAWMAKERS REACT TO BRAWLEY LETTER: “If you have a disagreement, that's not how one handles it and I'm saddened," said Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican. "We don't need distractions." Other Republican lawmakers refused to talk about it. "I don't have anything to say," said House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, a Charlotte Republican and top GOP leader, said she was surprised by the letter read on the floor. "I thought it was an inappropriate use of the floor by Rep. Brawley." If anything, Samuelson said, "I think it will help bring us together more because it doesn't represent the majority of the caucus."

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- congrats to the NCGA team on the big win against South Carolina last night. More North Carolina political news below. ***

Morning Memo: More Democratic trouble, N.C. vs. S.C. hoops rivalry renewed

UPDATED: DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S PROBLEMS GROW: The head of the North Carolina Democratic Party is facing questions about credit card charges made during a March trip to a Las Vegas casino to watch basketball games with his old college buddies. Records obtained by The Associated Press show state Democratic Chairman Randy Voller made $3,327 in charges to Southwest Airlines and the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel on an American Express Business Gold Card embossed with his name and that of the North Carolina Democratic Party. He said he's paid off the balance in full. Much more to this story -- click here.

N.C. LAWMAKERS TO PLAY "THE OTHER CAROLINA" IN BASKETBALL: North Carolina lawmakers will challenge their South Carolina counterparts to a game of hoops Wednesday evening at Reynolds Coliseum. The game is the first in at least four years between lawmakers from the two Carolinas. Rep. Burt Jones, a Rockingham Republican who will coach the North Carolina squad, helped revive the tradition. “The games in the past were pretty competitive,” he said. (Scouting report below.)

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- the source for N.C. political news and fun (see below). Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

Morning Memo: Obama to name Watt to housing post, taxes split Republicans

OBAMA TO NAME MEL WATT AS HOUSING CHIEF: President Barack Obama intends to nominate Rep. Melvin Watt to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the government regulator that oversees lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a White House official told the Associated Press.  The president was expected to name Watt, a 20-year veteran of the House, on Wednesday, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement.

HOUSE, SENATE STILL APART ON TAX PLAN: Senate Republicans are expected to debut a comprehensive tax plan in coming days -- but don't expect the House to stand at their side. Rep. David Lewis, the lead House tax negotiator, said Tuesday they still haven't found complete agreement. "The two chambers are not yet on one accord," he said. Lewis said he's optimistic the two sides will still unify around a single plan. He wouldn't identify the sticking point but it is likely how to pay for the plan -- with the Senate wanting to tax dozens of new services and the House wanting a more modest approach.

***Click below to keep reading the Dome Morning Memo for more details on Watt's new post -- and what it means in North Carolina -- as well as more political news and analysis.***

Hager's bill to end state's renewables standard refuses to die

Rep. Mike Hager's bill to rid the state of its renewables energy mandate refuses to die.

The bill was voted down in Hager's own committee last week 18-13, but he's got it scheduled to be taken up again in the House Committee on Public Utilities and Energy on Wednesday.

Hager was unavailable for comment but Dallas Woodhouse, North Carolina director for the Arlington, Va.-based Americans for Prosperity, which has supported Hager's bill, offered his opinion: “While there was not the right mix in the committee on that day, some of them may need more education.”

That presumably includes Rep. Tim Moore of Cleveland County, chair of the House Rules Committee; Conference Leader Ruth Samuelson of Mecklenburg County; and Wake County’s Nelson Dollar, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. All three voted against the bill. Read the full story here.

Morning Memo: Gift ban repeal dead, Hahn investigation seeks motive

TILLIS SAYS LOBBYIST GIFT BAN WILL REMAIN INTACT: House Speaker Thom Tillis took to Twitter this week to declare Republican Robert Brawley's bill to lift the ban on lobbyists giving lawmakers gifts is dead. "Benny, does the fact that the bill is dead give you any idea?" @thomtillis wrote. The speaker's office confirmed the 10:10 p.m. Tuesday tweet was legit. Tillis addressed the response to Benjamin Ray, an operative at the N.C. Democratic Party pushing Tillis on the issue and tying it to his office's controversial past with lobbyists and the fact the bill came from one of his committee chairman.

MOTIVE FOR JAMIE HAHN'S STABBING TURNS TO CAMPAIGN MONEY: As the Triangle mourned slain political strategist Jamie Hahn on Wednesday, attention turned to whether the man who police say stabbed her had made questionable campaign finance reports while working for Hahn’s firm. More on the story below.

***Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- click below for much, much more from a busy day in N.C. politics. Send news and tips to dome@newsobserver.com. ***

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